My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Sock Yarn Weights

I’ve been reading with interest Polly’s posts on actual sock yarn weights versus the stated weight on the ballband. It got me curious, so of course I had to do some experimentation of my own.

I grabbed some skeins of sock yarn out of my stash at random, and started weighing. My findings are presented in the table below, the format of which I shamelessly stole from Polly:

Brand Stated Weight
Actual Weight
Opal Handpaint 100gr 94gr -6
Arucania Ranco 100gr 100gr 0
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 126gr -2
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 124gr -4
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 123gr -5
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 127gr -1
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 123gr -5
Socks That Rock Lightweight 128gr 124gr -4
Dream in Color Smooshy 113gr 119gr +6
Dream in Color Smooshy 113gr 130gr +17
Dream in Color Smooshy 113gr 122gr +9
Cherry Tree Hill Supersock 113gr 117gr +4
Cherry Tree Hill Supersock 113gr 117gr +4
Cherry Tree Hill Supersock 113gr 116gr +3
Fleece Artist Merino 115gr 122gr +7
Fleece Artist Merino 115gr 127gr +12
Fleece Artist Merino 115gr 130gr +15
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 50gr 0
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 50gr 0
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 53gr +3
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 54gr +4
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 51gr +1
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 51gr +1
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 49gr -1
Claudia Handpaint Fingering 50gr 49gr -1
ShibuiKnits Fingering 50gr 53gr +3
ShibuiKnits Fingering 50gr 53gr +3
ShibuiKnits Fingering 50gr 54gr +4
ShibuiKnits Fingering 50gr 54gr +4

We had a discussion while at Graves Mountain, I think about things that affect sock yarn weight. I assume that humidity and altitude play a part. Someone suggested that yarn weighed pre-dyeing would be different from its weight post-dyeing.

I managed to tear myself away from weighing skeins of sock yarn to do some knitting. I did knit a swatch from my Dream in Color Classy on 2.75mm needles.

Classy Swatch 111207

Classy Swatch 111207

I got my desired gauge for sportweight socks: 6.5 stitches and 9 rows to an inch. Woo!

And I started work on my second Diagonal Lace sock.

Diagonal Lace 111207

Diagonal Lace 111207

Lucy spent part of the day in my lap, part of the day here:

Lucy 111207a

Lucy 111207a

And part of the day here:

Lucy 111207

Lucy 111207

P.S. to Janice:

Thanks for the popcorn!

Popcorn 111207

Popcorn 111207


Popcorn Popped 111207

Popcorn Popped 111207


  1. That is really wild… I might have to do some experimenting of my own. It really lets you see how different brands work. I mean, all of the str was less than it’s supposed to be… makes you feel a little jipped, doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚ Talk about commitment though, weighing all those and making a chart. Thanks! How are you feeling?

  2. This is why I try very hard to give 10 extra grams minimum per skein that I sell!

  3. For my graduate class I have a whole design of experiments going with knitting. I am comparing the obvious with the yarn weight, and needle size. My mystery variable is if I change gauge on wood/metal. I made 8 swathches but haven’t had time to measure. Since I used cotton I am going to do a pre wash verse post wash comparison as well…. Yay to experimenting with knitting.

  4. Yes humidity does play a part. It is reccommended not to buy yarn by weight, but by yardage. I have never had my yarn weigh different from before to after dyeing as long as the yarn is completely dry, but that has been my experience.

    I know that this might sound stupid, but did you weigh the yarns w/o the band/lableling?

  5. Quite an interesting experiment. As I dust off my memory from science class, if properly used, grams shouldn’t be affected from one altitude to another, only actual weight. Grams actually is a measurement of mass. While, pounds and ounces, measure weight. That is why we would all weigh less on the moon (for example), but our mass would be unchanged.

    Does that make any sense? Probably didn’t explain it well on my part. Anyway, so my thought is that the grams should be a proper indicator of the amount of mass. I do think humidity would make a difference, only slightly, though.

    As commented by Tonia, I would prefer to buy based on yardage, too, but if yarn manufacturers aren’t getting the grams/mass correct, can we trust them when it comes to yardage?? Anyone want to try to experiment with that, too? (just kidding!)

  6. This is so interesting! I read Polly’s experiements, too, and I am SHOCKED!! Thanks for looking into this for all of us and sharing your findings. ๐Ÿ™‚ …trying to resist the urge to weigh out all my yarn…

    trying. to. resist.

  7. This may sound a little strange but here goes. If the yarn was measured by the yardage/metreage that it’s sold by would this have an effect on the weight. The standard would be whats stated on the ball band but slight differences may occur? Just a thought, I would be interested to hear from others.

  8. I think it was interesting that you decided to
    weigh your yarn. I never thought of doing
    that. I use to be a great package decorator
    and bought a lot of ribbon. I found that
    our Michael’s store always had the right
    amount but Garden Ridge ribbon was always
    short. Now I know you are not interested
    in ribbon, but I wanted you to know that there are other places you get shortchanged.
    Your knitting is beautiful even though I know
    your back is probably bothering you. I hope
    by now you are feeling better.

  9. The variations in weight that you determined aren’t actually very much, always less than 10% of the indicated weight. Do you know the tolerance on your balance? It is likely that your balance is not made to weigh with greater accuracy than +/- 5-10%. Are you using a calibrated standard weight to check the weight? Of course not! But that’s what scientists have to do to assure that a weight is correct. Anyway, the data are interesting, but don’t necessarily prove that any given manufacturer is providing less or more than the amount advertised.


  10. Nothing to do with the current posts. I just want to say thank you for having a great blog.

    I started reading it from the beginning a few weeks ago, and it has kept me entertained, horrified (due to some of the negative comments you’ve received – some people have got major nerve), and even your cat has managed to grow on me (I only like people’s pets from a distance, especially really big dogs).

    The best three things U
    1) You don’t take crap off of anybody, and don’t let them get away with rudeness. It aggravates me more to see bad behavior unaddressed. Your readers don’t let them get away with it either. Kudos to all of you!

    2) You knit beautiful items, and I don’t have to wait forever to see the end result. I love how effortless you make this seem!

    3) Reading your blog while I knit my first (and last) poncho makes knitting it a whole lot more fun.

  11. Forgot to add — I love the limericks you post on here, too. Great fun!!!

  12. Alice in Richmond says:

    Wow, a statistical chart! Dream in Color is on my list now!

    I hope you are feeling better too.

  13. Awcome chart. Thank heavens I investesd in a scale like yours. Thanks for all your good advice and knowledge. Hope you are feeling well.

  14. That is just wild! I would think you should get what you pay for. That makes me want to weigh all my yarn stash and see if I got what I paid for.

    I know if I don’t hit weight on a skein I either keep it or mark it as a 2nd.

  15. I weigh as I knit, and I had noticed all my STR yarn was light – it’s very frustrating. It adds up to quite a bit in their favor.

  16. P.S. I use a scientific scale and it’s been calibrated.

  17. Wait–I need to know about the popcorn!

    Is it better than regular corn? Is it really hulless? Is it worth it for me to pay $9.10 shipping on a $2.75 bag of corn?

  18. You are welcome!! I’m glad you like the popcorn!! I’m loving the diagonal lace socks!! Hugs to Lucy!!

  19. and that’s why we do our yarn by the yardage (and always state less than we put in the skeins, so if we are off, t hey still get a little extra (tuvok, anyone?)

  20. Given the stretchiness of yarn and that a skein is a ‘wind-off’ rather than a weighed amount (at least for commercial companies of any size), I think we knitters can grant a ‘10% grace weight’ – so that any weight high or low within 10% of the stated weight is OK. I also wondered if you took the ball bands off when you weighed or if all the skeins you weighed had some sort of tag or ball band?
    I recently corresponded with Cheryl Potter of Cherry Tree Hill yarns about their Jumbo Loop Mohair. In previous years this yarn was sold as 185 yards per 8 ounce skein. I noticed my new skein was err, memory is failing, 217 I think, or 223 yards per 8 ounces. I wanted to use the same pattern I had used before and wondered if CTH or their supplying mill had changed the yarn. She told me the yarn was the same, but that CTH re-measures their yarns each year and that their new skeiner must be giving out some extra yards per weight. (I interpret this as the yarn is stretched differently in the skeining). She also said that yarn mills do not re-state their yardage per weight unless there is a 20% difference (I was surprised the difference had to be this large). I don’t have Cheryl’s e-mail any longer, and this is my recollection of what she told me, so if I’ve mis-stated, blame me not Cheryl. And the Jumbo Mohair did ‘behave’ the same way in the pattern I’d used before.

  21. Theresa in Italy says:

    Fascinating. I’m also wondering just how much the yardage would be affected, although I’m not going to start measuring it out just yet! But for those of us with, ahem, good-sized feet, might it make a difference?

    Hope you are continuing to feel better—the socks are looking lovely, as always! (And so is Lucy, as always!)

  22. I go more by yardage than by weight. For my own yarns I wind them all the same, but if they are a tiny bit different they would weigh different weights. Yardage is the most accurate way to do things. Also, I like to make sure there is plenty so I add 5-10 extra yards just to make sure.

  23. Really interesting couple of posts, between you and Polly – I see in Polly’s pictures she weighed with the label on – do you think this would make much difference?
    It never really makes a difference to me as I only knit socks for myself (poor wee lonely knitted with no friends who would truly appreciate the value of a knitted sock!) and I only have size 3 feet (a EU 36 – not sure of the USA size) so I always have loads left – probably enough for a pair of footsies!
    I think Juliet above was getting a bit mixed up – I’m sure that grams do measure weight, not mass – they are just the metric equivalent of pounds and ounces. Mass is an area not a weight.

  24. On a non-mass-related topic, thanks for re-printing your modified Russian bind-off yesterday. I was just finishing a top-down hat and your bind-off made a great finish for it!

  25. I was at a knitting retreat recently and the topic of weight vs. yardage came up. As it happens, it’s the dyeing that makes the yarn heavier. Some dyes are heavier than others (Jonelle from SWTC said that turquoise was quite heavy). Since manufacturers are required to have an accurate weight, the yardage will vary. Who would’ve thunk it?

  26. I know this off the topic of your blog post but I just saw this and have to share it with someone! The US Postal Service has issued Holiday postage stamps that have knitting on them !! Why did I not know this sooner? They were issued 10/25/07.
    I would have thought someone would have used this for blog fodder by now
    Here is a link:
    I just ordered some. They are called Holiday Knits

  27. That is interesting information, but it doesn’t really have additional correlating data (most of which has already been mentioned).

    Of course, what I find more interesting is how much yarn is actually used when making socks. My favorite basic socks were (iirc) 69 grams, leaving me enough to potentially make ankle socks (2 pairs out of a single ball of Trekking = not bad at all).

  28. I think darker dyes weigh more too. When J&S used to sell their jumperweight yarn in 28 gram increments, they used to say that the yardage varied – at least I think it was their site that said that. The darker colors had less yardage to 28 grams than the lighter colors.

  29. First of all, I’m so glad to see that you seem to be recovering well after your surgery. What a blessing!

    And what an interesting topic today. I had not really considered weighing the different brands of yarn to see how they compare to what is stated on the ball band. The comments make for some interesting reading as well. I always learn so much by visiting your blog.

    Lastly, a question, hopefully not answered before (I did a search of your blog and didn’t find anything on it). When you do the M1 for your toe increases, do you make them a mirror image of each other? Or do you just do the same thing for both sides? I know you said you have been increasing at the gusset by k1f&b. I was just curious about the toe increases.

    Looking forward to your answer, when you feel up to it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Ooh, cool chart. It’s surprising that so many skeins end up below the stated weight. You’d think, like most products you buy, it’d be weighted at the time of packaging to ensure accuracy. I don’t really buy the whole thing about dying since I am pretty sure that batches of yarn are generally dyed at quantities sufficient for a cone and are then wound off. My 2. I suppose humidity and altitude could play a part. Hard to say.

    Quick preference question for you. I notice your diagonal lace pattern isn’t flipped for the second sock. Do ever worry about making socks symmetrical when they have directional patterns?

  31. I have a digital scale at home and although I never did this experiment, I’ve started weighing hanks to split them before I knit my socks. An idea I beleive I got from Wendy. I’ve always wondered whether rolling the yarn affects the weight. Like, if you do it by hand which makes a denser ball with less air, will it be heavier? I tell myself the difference is negligable so I can move on.
    Those postage stamps are cool.

  32. I also wonder what Erin B is studying in graduate school that playing with knitting is allowed. Dude, I had the wrong major.

  33. Not trying to beat a dead horse.

    I did a bit of research about weight vs. mass and it looks like Elaine and I are both right about grams vs. pounds.

    And my point about weight vs. mass may be useless, but it was just a thought.
    Exceprt from

    “Strictly speaking a gram is a unit of mass. However, it can be
    used as a unit of weight in the sense “however much a gram of matter weighs”,
    which is about the same everywhere on the surface of the earth. If you think
    about it, there are almost no circumstances when a person would use the word
    “weight” and really mean weight. They do not care if the object being
    referred to as weighing 100 pounds (or grams) is on the earth or on the moon –
    what they are really doing is using “weight” to mean mass. Which is fine with
    everybody, since everybody understands it the same way.”

  34. thanks for weighing in too!! It’s really interesting to see how the various companies stack up. I think for the purposes here, the calibration from a simple kitchen scale is adequate to have a sense of how much care the companies have for its consumers. the new socks are lovely.

  35. Do the states where these businesses are located require weights and measures registration? NJ does:

  36. I go by yardage – always! Got burned too many times when I went by weight and ran out of yarn.

  37. That popcorn is our favorite! as a matter of fact, one of the kids (aged 4 to 7) saw the picture and now all three are jumping up and down, begging for some ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so cute and tiny! kind of like eating finger sandwiches instead of giant subs (or maybe I should just go pop some corn cause the jumping is getting a little crazy)

    Glad to hear that you’re feeling better!

  38. Humidity *does* make a huuuuge difference. I read somewhere (maybe the twisted sisters sock handbook, but don’t hold me to that — it’s early for me this morning) that a 4 oz bump of fiber can be 4 oz in a humid Iowa day, and lose as much as 10% of its weight after a day or two in Vegas.

    (Then again, it’s probably gambling irresponsibly and leaving behind its hard earned cash on slot machines and call girls.)

    I weigh my fibers for spinning, but go by yardage for skeins, since humidity doesn’t affect yardage. It’s scary to think that there might be people with pitchforks weighing skeins, especially with the god-awful humidity we get out this way in the summertime. (That hot, wet washcloth on your face? That’s the AIR.)

    Given that BMFA is in Oregon, which traditionally has just slightly less rain than, say, a fish tank — it’s not that surprising that their weights would be a bit off. (And OMGOMGOMG….have you seen the ravens yet?! *swoon*)